This recipe is a few things. It’s the ultimate autumn risotto. And the ultimate Sunday brunch and/or dinner risotto. And the ultimate hungover I-can’t-do-anything-but-listen-to-music-and-cook risotto.
Which is exactly what happened this past Sunday. I’ve had a bacon and eggs risotto on my mind for a while now, and after waking up on Sunday I couldn’t find the ambition to do anything other than finally make it. Luckily, I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand (except wine…) after making risotto for a few friends earlier last week, and was also able to pick through my CSA and see what I could use up.
This risotto follows basic risotto format––with a few tweaks. I roasted the butternut squash until charred and added it in at the end rather than cooking it with the rice. Like I mentioned earlier, I was out of white wine; as a substitute, I splashed a bit of Icelandic vodka and rice vinegar in the pan to deglaze, which actually worked quite fine. I also upped my soffritto game with a mixture of red onion, fresh sage, whole toasted cumin seed, and the smallest dash of Maharajah curry powder; it lets you know that this isn’t a light dish in any way. In fact, it’s comfortingly decadent… especially when topped with a butter-fried egg, crispy fried sage leaves, a massive slice of bacon, and some shards of parmesan cheese. This is a dish you make when it smells like winter is closing in, but it still looks like this outside. (Now.)
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1-2 large handfuls of spinach, chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 6-8 cups low sodium chicken stock, simmering
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or… 2 tbsp vodka + 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar)
- 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and crushed
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp minced sage leaves
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (to taste)
- 2 tbsp cold butter, diced
- 12-16 whole sage leaves
- Preheat the over to 450º. Chop the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes, toss with a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for ~30 minutes until crispy and tender.
- While the squash is in the oven, cook the bacon over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan or pot until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Try not to eat too many pieces while you cook so that every plate can have one for a garnish.
- Over medium heat, sauté the red onion with the cumin seed, curry powder, and a pinch of salt. After the onion is translucent, add in the garlic and minced sage. Stir well and let cook for another 30 seconds.
- Pour in the Arborio rice and, stirring, let toast in the oil and onions for 3-5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine (or my alternative option).
- Begin to add the hot chicken stock 2-3 ladles at a time to the risotto over medium-high heat, stirring almost continuously. This process should take around 20 minutes and nearly all of the chicken stock should be used by the end. After the first few additions, begin to regularly taste the rice to see how it’s cooking––it should be al dente and still have a good bite.
- Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, toss in the sage leaves and let fry for 5 seconds; remove. Just before serving, use this oil to fry an egg for anyone who wants to top their risotto with one. (This should be everyone.)
- When the risotto is al dente, turn the heat off and stir in the chopped spinach and roasted butternut squash. Then, vigorously stir in a handful of shards of parmesan cheese and the diced butter. Check for seasoning: depending on which brand of chicken stock you use, it may need a good amount of salt at this point.
- To plate, scoop a good portion of risotto into the center of each plate. Top with a fried egg, and then perch a large slice of bacon on top. Place a few sage leaves in the center of each dish on top of everything else, and, finally, use a vegetable peeler on a block of Parmigiano to create some more shards of cheese on top.